Kyiv, Ukraine — The death toll from a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro over the weekend has risen to 40, authorities said on Monday, as Western analysts cited indications the Kremlin was preparing for a protracted war in Ukraine after nearly 11 years Ukraine prepared months of struggle.
About 1,700 people lived in the multi-storey building and since Saturday’s strike, search and rescue teams have been working non-stop to locate victims and survivors in the rubble. The regional administration said that so far 39 people have been rescued and 30 others are missing. Authorities said at least 75 were injured.
The reported death toll made it the deadliest single attack on Ukrainian civilians since before the summer, according to The Associated Press-Frontline War Crimes Watch project. Local residents said the residential tower does not house any military installations.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the strike and others like it “inhumane aggression” because it was aimed squarely at civilians. “There will be no impunity for these crimes,” he said in a tweet on Sunday.
Questioned after Monday’s strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military is not targeting residential buildings and suggested the Dnipro Building was hit as a result of Ukrainian air defense actions.
The attack on the building came amid a broader barrage of Russian cruise missiles in Ukraine. Ukraine’s military said Sunday it did not have the means to intercept the type of Russian missile that hit the apartment building in Dnipro.
Fierce fighting continued on Monday in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, where military analysts said both sides are likely to suffer heavy troop losses. An independent review of the developments was not possible.
Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk province make up the Donbass, a sprawling industrial region on the border with Russia that Russian President Vladimir Putin identified as a flashpoint from the start of the war. Separatists supported by Moscow have been fighting Kiev’s troops there since 2014.
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Russian and Belarusian air forces on Monday began a joint exercise in Belarus, which borders Ukraine and has served as a base for Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. The exercises are scheduled to run until February 1, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said. Russia has sent its fighter jets to Belarus for exercises.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, reported signs the Kremlin is taking steps to turn its invasion of Ukraine into a “major conventional war” after months of embarrassing military setbacks.
What Moscow calls “a special military operation” was aimed at capturing the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv within weeks and installing a pro-Kremlin regime there, but Russian forces eventually withdrew from the Kyiv area, the think tank said. Then came a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive in the last few months before the onset of winter slowed the military advance.
“The Kremlin is likely preparing to undertake decisive strategic action over the next six months aimed at regaining the initiative and ending Ukraine’s current string of operational successes,” the Institute for the Study of War said in a report late Sunday.
It noted reports that the Russian military command was in “serious preparations” for expanded mobilization, conserving mobilized personnel for future use while seeking to boost military-industrial production and transform its command structure.
This means that Ukraine’s western allies “must continue to support Ukraine in the long term,” the think tank said.
NATO member states have in recent days tried to reassure Ukraine that they will stay the course. The UK has pledged tanks, and new, expanded combat training of Ukraine’s armed forces by the US military began in Germany on Sunday.
Further developments on Monday:
– Russian forces have shelled the city of Kherson and the Kherson region, killing three people and wounding 14 others over the past 24 hours, regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said. In the city of Kherson, shelling damaged a hospital, a children’s center for the disabled, a shipyard, vital infrastructure and homes.
– Russian forces attacked the city of Zaporizhia, damaging industrial infrastructure and injuring five people, including two children, reported Deputy Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
– Russian air defenses on Monday shot down seven drones over the Black Sea near the port of Sevastopol in annexed Crimea, reported Mikhail Razvozhayev, Russia’s appointed head of Sevastopol.
The video in the player above is from a previous report.
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https://6abc.com/news-ukraine-war-russia-today/12708816/ Russia-Ukraine war: Dnipro strike death toll rises to 40; Russians seen preparing long war